German auto giants funded exhaust fume tests on humans in 2013

Ashley Carr
February 1, 2018

Researchers then examined the lungs of the monkeys. Another group of monkeys was exposed to fumes from an older Ford pickup, for comparison. In fact, the human participants, according to the Stuttgarter-Zeitung newspaper, which broke the story, were exposed to only nitrogen dioxide. It said the experiments were related to workplace safety of truck drivers and maintenance workers, and that the levels of chemical used were below allowable limits.

The monkey tests took place at the Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute in New Mexico in 2014, even as the extent of the Volkswagen emissions scandal was becoming clear. The Beetle provided by Volkswagen for the tests had been fitted with software that caused it to produce far less pollution in the lab than the vehicle would have produced on the road.

A new Netflix documentary called "Dirty Money" talks about the scandalous experiment in the first episode, which has been available for streaming since last Friday.

The tests were carried out by the US-based Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute, the magazine adds, which received $730,000 (£520,000) worth of funding from the EUGT.

In the meantime, several non-governmental organizations (NGO) including the German Animal Protection League and German Environmental Aid decried the "pointless experiments" and "fake research" of the EUGT.

BMW told the press that it had not participated in the studies cited in media and had launched an "immediate internal investigation" into the work of EUGT. Liang was recently jailed for 40 months for his part in the dieselgate scandal.

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The same research has already put Volkswagen in hot water and earlier forced the company to plead guilty to United States federal fraud and conspiracy charges and pay billions in fines, after it was revealed the company had deliberately provided a testing auto which produced less harmful pollution levels inside a lab than on the road.

Daimler, responsible for automobile brands such as Mercedes-Benz and Smart, said Sunday it wanted to "expressly distance" itself from the study on humans and from the EUGT. Animal testing is a sensitive subject, best avoided unless required in the most exceptional circumstances. The EUGT's approach contradicts our values and ethical principles.

"I will do everything possible to ensure that this matter is investigated in detail", Volkswagen supervisory board Chairman Hans Dieter Poetsch said in a statement on Monday.

The report is damaging for the entire industry, Bosch Chief Executive Volkmar Denner said, warning that a decline in demand for diesel could pose a threat to jobs. It has since emerged that the model used in the test was among those with cheat software to reduce emissions in test situations.

Volkswagen said the study was never discussed in any management board meetings, after Bild earlier reported that an internal e-mail showed that at least some senior managers were informed about the design of the research.

While the monkey experiment itself was conducted by the Lovelace Respiratory Research Institute, based in the US, the $730,000 (£516,000) worth of funding required came indirectly from VW, BMW and Mercedes via a not-for-profit organisation the three manufacturers set up called the EUGT.

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